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Early commits -- "verbals" -- beware of the issues

stemitstemit Registered User Posts: 575 Member
edited November 2009 in Athletic Recruits
It's really a one-way street when it comes to "verbals" (committing before a binding agreement is allowed under NCAA rules) -- and it all travels in the direction of the school.

A player taking such a risky course should really understand the pitfalls.

If you are good enough to be recruited so early, it means you are a top flight prospect. (If you are being recruited early and are not a top flight recruit, you are simply an insurance option if, but only if, the school cannot find someone better. In this case, you’re disposable at the coach’s whim – with the blame to be laid at the foot of admissions more often than not.) If you are a top flight prospect, the school will wait for you at least until the beginning of your senior year. If the school says it won't wait for you, the school is either bluffing, or not. If the school is not bluffing, go somewhere else --there will be plenty of other great fits (academic, social, etc.) for a top flight recruit.

Here is the reality: if a top flight recruit's game/skills do not continue to progress after the early verbal, the school will back off the commitment (or, tell the recruit to go elsewhere for the recruit's "welfare.") During the period the recruit verbaled until the time the school backs off, the recruit will have pulled back from the recruiting "circuit" because the recruit thought the college recruiting race was finished. Often, by the time that happens, and by the time the word gets out that the recruit is available, the recruiting season will be winding down (there will still be spots, but not as many; and the time pressure is now working against the recruit).

Here is one illustrative story: Early courtship ends badly for Duke recruit - CharlotteObserver.com It is by no means unusual and should be a cautionary tale for all athletes considering an early commit.

The sweet spot in recruiting is the summer through the beginning of fall going into the senior year. This is when the recruit should try to "peak" -- all academic testing finished; all conditioning peaking; all camps/showcases/meets, etc., carefully chosen with an eye towards presenting your best performance in full view of the schools/conferences/levels of competition you are considering. (Before that, it’s fine to be seen on the recruiting circuit; it’s fine to perform; it’s fine to do preparatory work [i.e., looking at schools, talking to coaches, researching programs/conferences, etc].)

In my opinion, just hold off on that commitment while letting the recruiting process unfold. (In our case, many of the schools that made the final “cut” were not even on the list before that last high school summer.)
Post edited by stemit on

Replies to: Early commits -- "verbals" -- beware of the issues

  • fauvefauve Registered User Posts: 3,515 Senior Member
    Great, but sad article illustrating the pitfalls of early recruiting. A very good warning for students and parents to keep multiple options open, and take all promises and courting with a huge grain of salt.
  • fogfogfogfog Registered User Posts: 4,056 Senior Member
    Great post and article. Thank you!
  • skrlvrskrlvr Registered User Posts: 790 Member
    I think it is best to keep this in perspective. Horror stories make great news, but in terms of verbal commitments, as the article says,
    Coaches and athletes can change their minds any time before the letter of intent is signed. Most often, it's the student, but occasionally a school will, if the athlete has academic or discipline problems. But if the kid has none of those, like Watkins? "It's rare," says Phil Kornblut, a South Carolina recruiting expert. "Maybe 1 percent or 2 percent of the time, it's the team," says girls recruiting expert Bret McCormick.


    So while it is true, as the article states, that it is not uncommon for a 'recruitment to go sour', it is rare that a coach pulls an offer without an academic or disciplinary reason.

    This story represents a rare, worst case scenario. More often, it seems, it is the student who gives up on the school.
  • CA ParentCA Parent Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    A pretty good article .. the comments are also good. Everyone needs to remember that in many D1 sports you will always have to earn your play time anyway -- regardless of how or when you were recruited, or what you may have been promised .. a lot can change in a short time, even late in your senior year. It does seem that the risks are even higher if you verbally commit early and take yourself out of the recruiting loop with other schools.
  • mayhewmayhew Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    Very interesting article - thanks for posting it. Fascinating to think of verbal commits being able to happen from 9th grade on. Also, at least Duke was going to honor the actual scholarship so she still would have had the benefit of a Duke education at what I imagine would be a greatly reduced price. The most surprising thing of all to me though was the mention of weekly phone calls from Duke coaches during her junior year - as in them calling her - isn't that against NCAA rules?!
  • varskavarska Registered User Posts: 1,430 Senior Member
    Nice catch, mayhew. Of course it's illegal to call a recruit before 7/1 - hopefully this was just a little sloppy reporting. Interestingly, I was talking to D tonight and a friend of hers (sr) has verbally committed to Duke. No money freshman year, but if he does well, the money floodgates will supposedly open in the future.

    Which brings up a tangent. I know in the Ivys a coach can back an athlete through admissions for a likely letter. At a scholarship program like Duke or Stanford, if a coach doesn't have scholarship money to give, does he still have the power to back an athlete through admissions? If so, how much clout does that carry? I tried to pin down an answer with a coach and he was sort of evasive. Is it just a rec. letter from someone who doesn't know you very well?
  • dadxdadx Registered User Posts: 2,641 Senior Member
    Also, at least Duke was going to honor the actual scholarship so she still would have had the benefit of a Duke education at what I imagine would be a greatly reduced price.

    Well, that's what they say in the article. Had she said she was coming anyway, do you think they would have given any athletic assistance whatsoever after some token amount for the first year? I don't...based upon what I read.

    Varska: The coach has the power to get you in if he wants you as a "recruited walk-on". There are limits to the numbers of kids he can do this with, depending on the school, admissions policies, and what kind of student they are. Obviously this is a small category. To take this status from a school, you have to be good enough to attain it, and willing to forego what other "offers" you might receive from other schools.

    If Duke or Stanford offer recruited walk-on status to someone, a lot of guys will be pretty interested. And some will prefer to go elsewhere where they are guaranteed some athletic money, and where there is a guaranteed roster spot and playing time would be more plentiful.
  • pacheightpacheight Registered User Posts: 1,168 Senior Member
    "To take this status from a school, you have to be good enough to attain it, and willing to forego what other "offers" you might receive from other schools."

    well said!
This discussion has been closed.